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Baba Yetu: First Grammy Winning Video Game Song Review (Civilization 4)


So there are a lot of things that Iove about the song Baba Yetu One of the things that struck me the most – Christopher Tin, the composer, he could have taken it a much different direction For example, I mean imagine being a musician and be commissioned to make this music for a civilization game, right I mean there are so many ways you can interpret musically what Civilization means, what it means to build a civilization across the ages So for example, say he would have done something like this instead (ethereal music from the Lord of the Rings plays) He could have done something more edgy and cool like this (Music from the matrix – “Clubbed to Death” – playing) Or a more close comparison is the sims games, you know where you build cities kind of, not really, but you know it’s a city (Music from simcity 3000 playing) So there are so many ways that he could have taken it, and in my interview with him he reiterated how it was the first piece he made for a video game So he was given a lot of freedom. And what’s cool about it and part of the reason it’s so successful is that it came from a really deep part of him I mean it took him an entire week to come up with those first several notes. So that means he tried for an entire week! I mean you’d think it wouldn’t be so hard to put those few notes together with those words, but it is You try different things, it just doesn’t feel right, and then finally he comes to it And what I love about his honest take is that Baba Yetu is such a hopeful sort of a feel It’s not, you know civilization is evil and there’s so many things you could do that are bad or manipulative, or you know more about the power and the wealth It’s more about the wonder and the beauty of building a civilization of the history of mankind. And another thing that I loved about this piece was the types of instruments that were used Think of all the songs or pieces that you listen to that were made recently, and they most likely feature instruments or sounds that only existed in the past say 100 years And Baba Yetu for the first part uses very basic instruments, very basic sounds – things that can be easily built and played with He gives this sense of being more grounded – I don’t know, of being more “real”. And that’s what I love about it, I feel like I’m right there, as it’s being played and I’m listening to this choir singing right in front of me And the last thing I wanted to mention was I think a part of the reason also why it’s so memorable Is the fact that the words “Baba Yetu” are so easy to remember, and so addictive when put with that melody I mean when you even just think of the word “baba”, that’s a very basic – like a baby can say it. It’s very basic syllables And so even just how our mouths move when we say it, “Baba Yetu”, it’s just a very fun, concise thing to say – and to sing, frankly. And building off of the fact that, you know, “even a baby could say it”, it’s such a lullaby type of a song If you slow it down and did this, this is what it would sound like (Baba Yetu being played slowly on a lullaby type feel with piano) Just the way those notes are placed one after the other, it has that lullaby sort of a feel I think Inherent in it, something that maybe even your mom could sing to you right – and I think near the end of the song when we get to this part It really feels that way (Near the end of Baba Yetu playing) So those are my thoughts on Baba Yetu And if you want to see my interview with the composer Christopher Tin check out the link in the description below And if you want to help support the show and you like Soundtrack Reviews, please consider donating on Patreon Where for a dollar per review, you get access to an extra video – basically what didn’t make it to the final cut – my unedited thoughts. So let me know what you think about my thoughts on Baba Yetu in the comments below. And as always, thank you for watching Soundtrack Reviews – and I’ll see you next time!

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Comments
  • Please keep making more game music videos! Might I suggest looking into the way vocals are used (lyrically, non-lyrically, made-up-lyrically) in NieR and NieR:Automata?

    I'd also urge you to do a follow-up video to this, with your own review of Sogno di Volare. 🙂

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